Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Week Eight Review (ending August 19)

Saskatchewan at Toronto

The score seemed much closer than the actual game provided and in the end, the Riders late game attempt at a comeback wouldn't provide for a positive result on the scoreboard or for the coaching prospects of Greg Marshall and Doug Berry.

The first of the two bye week games for week eight brought two of the three worst teams in the league together in a er, uh, ahem, showdown, for bragging rights as to who really, really didn't suck more..

After the full sixty minutes Jim Barker's Argonauts could claim that title on the strength of a 24-18 victory, in front of the usual gathering of small but loyal  supporters .

For the majority of the game, or at least three quarters of it, the Argonauts played an efficient game both on offence and defence, if not for a near collapse in the fourth, Thursday's would have been as close to a perfect game that Barker has seen this year from his squad.

Cleo Lemon once again had a strong game,  a trend that has been building over the last three weeks. A welcome development for Barker who had been feeling a bit of heat over his choice in quarterback's slow start this year.

With the win the Argos snap a six game losing skid, collect two points and move towards Hamilton in the east and more importantly with those two points keep alive the prospect of a crossover playoff spot should it all come down to that at the end of the season.

Saskatchewan on the other hand is a team going very much in the wrong direction, Thursday night featured a recurring theme of the season so far,  slow starts and far too many mistakes to overcome for a positive result, no doubt the contributing factors to the decision to fire both Head coach Greg Marshall and offensive coordinator Doug Berry the next day.

Fumbles, missed field goals, missed tackles, dropped balls on pass routes which aren't necessarily the domain of the coaching staff sealed the fate of the Riders on Thursday and of the two coaches on Friday, the old refrain of you can't fire the team, so fire the coach seemingly the discussion point for Rider management, which is watching with alarm as the Grey Cup finalist of 2010 could explore the depths of the CFL not seen for many a year on the prairies.

The fourth quarter comeback provided flashes of what the Riders thought they had this year when the broke from training camp, but the surge in offence in the final twelve minutes of play wasn't enough to secure the jobs of the coaching staff, it will be up to former head coach, current VP and now interim head coach Ken Miller to try and capture some of that final twelve minutes and turn it into a full sixty minute effort on Labour Day.

Toronto Sun-- This time turnovers favoured Argos
Toronto Star-- Argos looking to build on win, heading into the second half
Globe and Mail-- Argos thwart Riders' comeback
National Post-- Argos hold off the Riders
Regina Leader Post-- Toronto 24, Saskatchewan 18 - Read all about it

British Columbia at Edmonton

While there probably was little danger that David Braley was about to send Wally Buono off to the EI office to set up and unemployment claim, Buono's team put aside all doubts over their head coach with a convincing thrashing of the Edmonton Eskimos on Friday Night Football.

The Lions that took on the injury plagued Eskimo roster on Friday, looked very much to be the dominant team that BC fans thought was going to rule the CFL West this season,  Travis Lulay connected twice with Arland Bruce III for touchdown passes, a combination that took a few weeks to get into sync but on Friday looked quite impressive as did the remainder of the Lions offence as well as the defensive squad.

The final score of 36 to 1 was a punctuation mark for the Lions for weeks and weeks of frustration, the Eskimos the unfortunate squad that was in the wrong place at the wrong time when the Lions finally exploded to purge some of the negativity that had been building over the first seven weeks of the season.

And while one win does not a season make, it was a pivotal victory for the Lions, providing them with of course two key points but more importantly with a healthy serving of confidence for a team that seemed to be getting rather fragile over the last number of weeks.

The win, combined with the bye week should give the Lions something to build upon for the second half of the season post Labour Day.

To be fair to the Eskimos the injuries that have accumulated over the last three weeks have been a major contributing factor to their losing streak, Ricky Ray no doubt requiring name tags in the huddle in order to keep track of who he is throwing the ball to these days.

Defensively, the Eskimos have gone from shutting the door to opposing offences to leaving the porch light on to help the competition find the end zone with much less trouble.

It's a situation that must be providing some frustrating moments for head coach Kavis Reed,  who will have to try to recapture some of that early season momentum  before things get too far along on this disturbing losing skid that may undermine much of their remarkable start.

Some healthy bodies most likely would be a helpful thing for coach Reed, and with the bye week coming up for the Esks, there will be time for some recuperation and examination of NFL departures for a possible shoring up of the Esks lineup.

After three weeks of rather humbling losses, GM Eric Tillman was promising action and accountability, with a week of breathing space to reassess, Eskimo fans will be anxious to see how things change and if the Esks can return to the winning side of the ledger over the second half of the season.

Vancouver Province-- Standout effort sees B. C. Lions devour Eskimos in Edmonton
Vancouver Sun-- Lions impressive win silences Buono bashing bloggers
Edmonton Sun-- Esks stink out the joint
Edmonton Journal-- Eskimos have gone from bad to worse in a real big hurry
Globe and Mail-- Lions pounce on wounded Eskimos
National Post-- Lulay, Lions hammer Eskimos

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